Workers at a Sacramento taco restaurant are accusing the owners of overworking and underpaying them in addition to taking their tips. According to a KCRA news report, the complaint filed this week by the U.S. Department of Labor alleges that the owners of Taqueria Garibaldi, a local Mexican restaurant chain, deprived their employees of wages earned starting from as far back as May 2018.
Serious Wage Violations
The complaint states several employees work over 40 hours per week, some working over 12 hours per day. Many employees had to perform tasks outside the position for which they were hired. The complaint accuses the owners of not paying employees the overtime wages that they earned saying the owners failed “to pay a rate of one and one-half times the regular rate” and instead, would pay employees cash for hours worked over 40 per week.
The complaint goes on to say that the owners kept tips received by its employees. In addition, the complaint also alleges the owners of the restaurant chain failed to keep an accurate record of hours worked and wages paid to their employees. Additionally, the restaurant owners are accused of impeding the U.S. Department of Labor’s investigation into the business.
In 2021, the Wage and Hour Division of the federal department started asking workers about labor practices at the restaurants. The complaint alleges that the owners told employees to tell investigators that they only worked 40 hours a week and eight hours a day and that they were only paid in checks.
The Problem of Wage Theft
According to the Department of Labor, in the fiscal year 2021, there were more than $34.7 million in back wages for food service employees across the country. Wage theft is a term that covers various types of pay violations. It occurs with alarming frequency in California, according to a recent KQED report.
According to the Department of Labor, minimum wage violations in California alone occur about 372,000 times each week. Low-income workers, who make up about a third of California’s workforce, are especially vulnerable, and they also suffer severe hardship when employers shortchange their pay. Many of these workers clean restaurants, pick fruit, wait tables, stock warehouses and care for the elderly.
If you believe that your employer is not paying you your wages due, you may be able to file an unpaid wages claim. You may also be able to band together with other workers and file a class-action lawsuit to recoup your unpaid wages and other compensation. An experienced California employment lawyer can help you better understand your legal rights and options.